The following is from Barnabas Olare in Maweni, Mombasa, a pastor of the Gospel Missions Agency Church:
Just to update you that we’ve been working on formalizing membership in our church in Mombasa for some time now. We now have an official membership of 17, that number is likely to rise to 20 shortly if some applications we’re processing now conclude successfully. It’s a joy to see that the last 7 or so years of gospel preaching is being used by the Lord to bring about genuine conversions and therefore credible confession of faith. It’s also been tough, especially when interviews reveal that people who have been part of the congregation for years realize that they may not be truly saved, and therefore their membership not immediately approved or recommended for approval by the church. There’s been a good measure of controversy and even hard feelings, but the dust is settling now by God’s grace. Still we need much prayer as we seek to reform into a truly Biblical church.
The Wisdom Training Centre is doing well. We’ve started a diploma class this year, so currently we have 40 students in all, 20 in the certificate and another 20 in the diploma class. It’s obviously an increase in the workload, but it’s also a great joy to witness some of these men and women find true saving grace, and others delivered from error. We’re so graceful to the Lord for the tremendous opportunity to serve Him in this area.
I have been asked to do another round of Africa Pastors Conferences in Durban South Africa and also in Lesotho next month between 2nd. and 12th., on the subject “Preaching Salvation”. Please pray for much grace and fruit for the glory of our Lord Christ.
Grace to you all and peace from God the father and our Lord Jesus Christ. It is recorded for us in Acts 12 that amidst the many trials, persecutions, opposition and pride of the Jews, their leaders and other forces arrayed against the course of Christ, the interventions of the great hand of our God ensured that “…the word of God grew and multiplied” (vs. 24). Such is the testimony here, and in “dispatches from Mombasa”, which normally follow the conclusion of the highlight event of the year here, our annual Reformation Conference, it’s my joyful duty to share with you some of the doings of our great God among us, and in particular the growth and advance of His living word. Even though this edition will focus mainly on reporting on the just concluded conference, we will also seek to highlight some of the Lord’s doings among us so far this year. It is our prayer and hope that by these reports God’s people will be encouraged, strengthened and challenged, all to the glory of God. We also hope that you will be stirred up to stand with the work here in prayer that the Lord will give us grace and meet the needs for this work.
Let’s begin with perhaps the real highlight of the year so far; WTC is the fruition of a desire we have had for some time now. From very early on, the Lord helped us to see that the future of the work here will require more than a once a year conference. And so as my 3 year theological training at the PTC Nairobi, under the tutelage of Pst. Keith Underhill, drew to a close, the words of Paul in 2 Tim. 2:2 appeared to point to the next phase in this journey. After much prayer, planning and with the encouragement and support of our good friends Elly Achok, Papa Billy and Mama Tessa Sked, a decision was made
to step out in faith with the project. We are thankful to the Lord for the Skeds who helped mobilize resources to put up the infrastructure needed including the class room. Finally on June 10th 2015, Wisdom Training Center opened its doors to the first batch of 27 students, 5 ladies and 22 men, most of them pastors. This in itself is something of a miracle, last year’s conference was a very difficult one as many of the Churches and pastors around this area ganged up and made every effort to frustrate it. Some even organized an open air crusade right outside the conference venue to draw attention from it. Well most of the pastors who have enrolled for the training are from within the same area, and have been among our fiercest critics! The number exceeded our expectations, as we had planned for a maximum of 15 students. We had to review our initial budget and also split the class into two, a morning class of 13 and an evening one of 14. This means that I have 7 hours of lecturing twice every week, yet it is such a joy to be able to bring the eternal truths of God’s infallible word to these hungry souls. Even though most of these students have been “Christians” for many years, even rising to positions of leadership in their churches, it is becoming apparent as the scriptures are explained that few if any of them understand the gospel. It is our prayer that this will go beyond theological training, that the Lord will be pleased to bring some of these dear ones to a true saving knowledge of our Lord Christ. We pray too that from here, the Lord will also raise warriors for the truth who like Samson’s foxes will invade and set ablaze the Philistine grain fields of false teaching, making a bold stand for the gospel. As we rejoice in what the Lord is doing with the Wisdom training center, we sincerely acknowledge the strong partnership of Mzee Billy and Mama Tessa Sked who have stayed engaged in this work right from its conception. We are particularly grateful that they arrived two weeks before the conference to be with us here and be an encouragement to the Church here and the students at the WTC. Your being in class with us, participating in the discussions and your words of encouragement energized the students and we thank you for it. We remember fondly the great moments of fellowship over meals and the word, and pray that the Lord will grant us many more such. We thank the Lord too for brother Elly (much loved by the students here), whose advice has been invaluable in the whole process. His availability to conduct the inaugural lectures on June 10th and 11th, even when his health wasn’t very good is much appreciated. Once again brother you answered our call and arrived early to lecture the students under very difficult health conditions, we thank you.
Like I’ve mentioned, we were blessed this year to have Papa Billy and Mama Tessa arrive weeks prior to the conference. Their visit was a great encouragement to God’s people here. Mama Tessa was especially helpful to the women in our Church as she taught and encouraged them. She particularly helped and challenged the women to see the opportunities available for them to be useful in the Lord’s service in the Church, but also in their families and personal evangelism. Mama Tessa and my wife Vera also shared the gospel with a group of women who gathered from the neighborhood to listen. The week before Ref. Conf. we had a 3 day pre-conference seminar at a place called “Vikwatani” in Mombasa. The meeting was hosted by one of the Pentecostal Churches there. Given our back ground we are particularly keen on reaching back to people in these circles, and when we get the opportunity we focus on explaining the gospel. . Papa Billy and I preached the gospel of the grace of God in Christ, with particular focus on the new birth, and the righteousness of Christ as the sole basis of acceptance with God. By God’s grace we endeavored to lay bare the falsehoods inherent in the modern gospel of greed and the delusion of the invitation system. It was encouraging that a good number of those who attended this meeting showed up for the main conference. We pray that the Lord will grant increase to the seed sown for His glory.
The theme of this year’s conference was “The covenants, understanding Biblical revelation” split into 10 sessions with both Elly and Billy taking 5 each. Papa Billy opened the first day with a consideration of why we must study covenants. He gave three fundamental reasons
1. Since the Bible is structured covenantally, understanding the covenants is crucial for our understanding of the scriptures. He underscored the massive importance of the subject by pointing out that not only does the word appear more than 300 times in the Bible, but the Bible itself is described as Old and New Covenants.
2. Emphasizing that God has always dealt with creation, and man in particular by making covenant, and His self disclosure has come only in the context of covenant he explained that understanding covenants is essential to our knowledge of God.
3. Building on the first two points, he helped us to see that the very salvation we have in Christ is the product of covenant, therefore we must study the covenants in order that we may learn the way of salvation, and also that we may have great confidence before the throne of God when we come to rest in the benefits of the covenant which God swore to give those who trust in His Son. Following this great introductory session, brother Elly came in the second to define and explain the Biblical concept of covenant. First he define covenant as “A bond (relationship), created when God pledges Himself in promise to act in the benefit and favor of those He has chosen, and such a pledge is sealed by oath. Unpacking the definition, he observed 1. That whenever God makes covenant, a relationship is always inaugurated and therefore relationship is the reason why God makes covenants (Ex. 6:7, Deut. 4:20, Jer. 7:23, Ez. 36:28, Jn. 20:17 etc.). 2. That whenever God makes covenant, it is always with the intent of conferring benefits to His chosen (Gen. 12, 15, 17; Psa. 89:4; Gen. 8:9 etc.). The element of promise is therefore central to God’s covenants. 3. That in covenant, God binds himself, puts Himself under obligation to fulfill the promises He has made (Ex. 19:5; Heb. 6:13-18, etc.).
Brother Elly came back in the last session of the day and showed from the scriptures that before time begun, there was a covenant made among the persons of the Trinity in which the Father chose a people and gave them the Son, resolving to send him in time as their representative. That in that capacity He would be their substitute, incurring all their liabilities and they benefiting from all His accomplishments. He emphasized the fact that all this was sealed before the foundations of the world. At the heart of this brother Elly pointed us to the eternal wise counsel of the Triune God in which He set forth the only way in which fallen man will be saved namely Christ, the lamb foreknown and slain before the foundations of the world (1 Pet. 1:1920; Rev. 13:8); That in so doing God has not attempted to save, or made salvation possible, but has actually and infallibly secured and guaranteed the redemption of His chosen. Brother Elly contrasted the covenant God of the scriptures from the feeble, impotent god of the popular gospel today who “tries the best he can” but has no actual power to save. He made it quite clear that salvation as revealed by the eternal covenant of redemption IS OF THE LORD, He plans, accomplishes and applies it infallibly. Next again came Papa Billy with the first covenant made in time, which he termed “the Adamic covenant”, and which has its high point in the prohibition in Gen. 2:15-17. He labored to show that under this covenant, Adam was constituted the representative of all humanity and so when he failed under it, we all incurred his guilt and corruption. Therefore under this broken covenant we stand condemned before God. “in Adam all die…”. (1 Cor. 15:22). He concluded on a hopeful note, pointing back to what had been said earlier, that just like the failed Adam was constituted head of all humanity, God had before time constituted Christ the representative head of a people given to Him, and that for these He would in time come and discharge the debt incurred on their behalf in the first Adam. God had anticipated the fall and was therefore not caught by surprise when it happened. And so in the next session we heard again from Papa Billy how following the fall, God announces a gracious plan of salvation through the seed of the woman, who will crush the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15), and by whose righteous life and substitutionary death our sins will be atoned for and a righteousness procured for us (Gen. 3:21, this he called the covenant of grace which will characterize God’s redemptive plan throughout the ages, and will be developed in the subsequent covenants. What followed was a glorious journey through the unfolding plan of salvation through Christ. God in the Noahic covenant preserves creation in anticipation of the coming seed of the woman; reveals in the Abrahamic covenant the family line by which that seed will come, and faith as the means by which His accomplishments will be credited to the elect . The Mosaic covenant was masterfully handled by Elly as he explained the place of the Mosaic law in the grand scheme of redemption; the character and standards of God revealed in the moral law and our utter inability to measure up to it, the seriousness of sin revealed in the blood drenched sacrificial system, the necessity of a mediator, and the very idea of a community of God which is the grand goal in all of God’s covenant dealings-to have a people for Himself from among fallen humanity. This was a most convicting session as the law was applied to the audience, slaying the pride of man and Christ held forth as the one who alone satisfied all the requirements of God’s law, and in whom alone true righteousness is to be found. The last session on Friday afternoon saw Papa Billy conclude with the Davidic covenant and set the stage for the publication on Saturday of the grand fulfilment of God’s plan for the ages in the fullness of time (Gal. 4:4). This was very well done by our brother Elly under the New covenant. Uplifting testimonies Besides the preaching, the conference had the opportunity to hear testimonies from 2 brothers whose hearts the Lord has recently arrested and turned from error to the truth.
Brother Justus Olango from Kisumu, gave an account on Friday afternoon of how for 22 years, he lived with a false assurance even becoming a pastor for a number of years. Then in April of 2014, at the Reformation conference in Mumias the Lord arrested his heart with the truth. The realization that he had for so long believed and staked the destiny of his soul on a false gospel was just too much to take in at first. Following an intense work of the Spirit Justus came to know the Lord and has since completed his 1 year training at the WTC Mumias.
Jeff Meyers (with his wife Purity) came to Kenya several years back as a missionary and crusade preacher. When the Lord opened his eyes to the truth, he dissolved his ministry and is now given to searching the scriptures. The Lord joined this couple to us through Pastor Underhill and they have proved to be very zealous for God since. We continue to pray for them and look forward to seeing the Lord use them greatly in the coming days.
These testimonies brought home to many the reality of just how one can be “lost in the Church” and not know it, but also of the power of God’s grace
to draw His people from such lostness, praise the Lord!
SPECIAL MOMENTS FROM REFORMATION CONFERENCE 2015
Even though our teacher Keith Underhill was not able to join us for the conference this year, the presence of brothers Murungi Igweta and Vincent Kajuma from Trinity Baptist Church Nairobi encouraged us greatly.
We are very proud of our bond with T.B.C and Pastor Underhill to who we owe a great debt of gratitude not only for the theological training that has laid a strong foundation for the work here., but also for his fatherly encouragement and friendship.
As the curtains come down on this fourth edition of Reformation Conference Mombasa, we look back at what the Lord has done over the last few years with joy. While the journey continues to be tough, and lonely sometimes, the Lord has not left us without encouragement. We rejoice to witness lives being changed in our midst by the power of the gospel. Men and women are coming to true faith under the preaching of God’s word, are being strengthened to stand up against the gospel of greed that only a few years ago formed their staple diet. May the Lord be pleased to strengthen His course and bring forth fruit for His glory. Special thanks to Brother Elly and Billy for their faithful service, laboring in the word at the conference. We appreciate all who participated in whichever way to make this year’s conference a success, especially those who worked behind the scenes without much recognition. The Lord remember you and richly bless you. To Him alone be the glory for ever!
Contacts Gospel Missions Agency Church
P. O. Box 95453-80106, Mombasa, Kenya.
Tel: +254 720-225 109 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com